HEARTLESS scammers are targeting vulnerable widows and widowers and trying to steal thousands of pounds from them.

Police have issued a warning after a disabled Bournemouth man was urged to hand over £1,500 in exchange for a £200,000 grant.

Anthony Williamson, 73, was contacted on Facebook by someone pretending to be a friend.

He told the Daily Echo: “I belong to a group of people who have lost their wives or husbands and the message looked like it had come from one of my friends there.

“It said a grant of £200,000 was available to people like me who have lost their wives and are disabled.

“At first I thought it was believable and sent them a picture of my driving licence to prove my identity but then I thought twice about sending them the money they had asked for.”

Mr Williamson said he went to his local bank to ask for their advice and was urged by staff there to ignore the message.

He added: “They are obviously trying to get money out of vulnerable people and I am sure there are some people who will fall for it.

“I contacted the police and passed on the person’s details so hopefully they will get to the bottom of it.

“Now I want to warn other people because this is a horrible thing to do.”

Mr Williamson, who has had both hips replaced and has a pacemaker fitted, said he has felt vulnerable since his wife died nearly six years ago,

The incident is the latest in a series of fraud offences targeting the elderly and vulnerable across Dorset and the New Forest.

Throughout the summer there were a series of offences where fraudsters collected bank cards from people’s homes after telling them their accounts had been targeted by scammers. Money was then taken from the accounts.

A spokesman for Dorset Police said: “Dorset Police was called at 11.48am on Saturday October 12 with a report of a Facebook scam.

“The victim reported that they had received a message from a friend to say they could be eligible for money. In the message, the victim was asked to put money into a named account.

“The victim did not transfer any money. Never send money or give bank or personal details to anyone you do not know or trust. Inquiries into the report are ongoing.”

More advice is available if you go to dorset.police.uk/help-advice-crime-prevention/scams-fraud-cyber/.